Coming to terms with the reality of Facebook and user privacy

Juan Castillo, Staff Writer

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Terms of use and services are kind of a running joke to a lot of people nowadays. Everyone jokes about how long they are and about how no one ever actually reads them before hitting accept. Once someone hits accept, it’s out of their mind and they go on and continue using the app or website. But when it comes to social media websites like Facebook, that hold tons of personal user information, we might want to start taking a closer look at how these companies handle our personal data before agreeing to anything.

Facebook wants you to use their services not so you can connect with old friends or so you can share funny memes you found online, they want you to use it so they can keep collecting more and more data to then use for advertising. Facebook makes its money through providing advertisers with the right tools to reach certain target markets and audiences. So the more information on us Facebook has, the better they can sell their advertising space to companies.

Now recently Facebook has come rightfully under fire due to the Cambridge Analytica incident. This company purchased the data of 87 million Facebook users. The company then used to data to provided various politicians and political campaigns with information on potential voters during the 2016 election.

The data of many of these users was accessed without the user ever even knowing it. At the time that it happened when an individual agreed to allow a website or app to access their personal Facebook information they unknowingly also allowed the information of all their friends to be accessed as well. So even though many of these individuals never agreed to allow Cambridge Analytica to collect their Facebook data they got a hold of it because someone on their friend’s list did. This was all a legitimate means Facebook provided for companies to collect data from their users that had a certain setting turned on.

While now this setting has been changed to not allow access to your friend’s data, it shows the danger of tech giants holding that much personal data. Facebook has grown to be a massive company and an influential aspect of many people’s daily lives. It would be almost impossible for Facebook to be able to properly monitor or correct issues regarding the security of users data. It is because of that, that users should reconsider exactly how much information they put online and if they really want to allow companies to know more about them than most of their friends do.

Even with all the commotion of the Cambridge Analytica incident, Facebook is still riding strong. Their stock prices began to dip as many people including celebrities began to delete their profiles but the company seems to be bouncing back rather quickly. This just shows, it’s up to the users to show Facebook that we will not take the abuse of our data lightly. We do this by either leaving the service completely or supporting lawmakers who are fighting to push privacy laws in our government.

Facebook also needs to take the necessary precautions when it comes to user data. With the way their user settings are set up, it seems as if they purposely make it difficult to manage exactly who can see what information. Transparency and security should be what comes first for Facebook, not profits.